Examining hellenic equality

Alan Duff

College, for almost every attendee, could be described as a lesson in choice. Students must choose what college they want to go to, what they want to major in — and if they want to finish that 10-page paper or watch just one more YouTube video. For this reason I believe that when someone goes to college, their choices and decisions should be maximized rather than restricted.

Over the past hundred years, the United States has experienced an influx in choices that all of its citizens can make, from women’s suffrage and desegregation, to who can serve in the armed forces. With more choices came more equality for many adult citizens.

This is a great thing, as increases in choices have facilitated more freedom. But equality is something that we can always hope to improve. This is especially true on places like college campuses, where the goal should be promotion of different ideas and choices. But this shouldn’t be just the college, but also groups on campus that can work to improve student’s choices rather than limit them.

One such group that could ask themselves if their policies could use revision is college sororities. Compared to other groups on campus that treat men and women equally, sororities — or in Lawrence’s case, female fraternities — have many rules that their members must follow that their all-male counterparts are never troubled by.

When hosting formal events, many sororities need to inform their nationals and then have it approved weeks in advance. Some sororities won’t allow their members to bring their dates in small groups, but will only allow one large group of students for their official formals. If a student then leaves the formal, they are not allowed back in.

At colleges where sororities are actually allowed to have houses on campus, there are enforced curfews for how late boys may be over at night, if at all. These are ideas that sound noble, but belong to a chauvinistic era and are frankly insulting to women.

I’m not saying these rules aren’t well intended and that the argument that they exist to “protect” women doesn’t hold some ground. But when fraternities, other formal groups and even public high schools don’t demand this same level of strictness that the sororities do, there is a problem of equality and choice here.

Sororities shouldn’t have to ask, like children, permission for every event they hold on campus.

In an era where women now have to fight against wage gaps, a still present glass ceiling and politically-charged birth control issues, it is clear that the issue of equality remains pertinent today. We have a responsibility to treat women equally, rather than as people who need to have their hands held when they are adults

I could be wrong though. I’m not a member of a sorority, and choosing to be a member of a sorority is a choice, but I would like to think that whatever group a person belongs to would empower its members and increase their opportunities rather than restrict them. 

Maybe this isn’t the biggest issue, but I think people should be aware of it. Both Greeks and non-Greeks should ask themselves if these kinds of rules should continue to be used in our modern world.

I think by this point we’ve learned that Susan B. Anthony was right when she said, “Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.”